Architects cannot afford to ignore the needs of healthcare facilities that offer abortion services, according to Lori A. Brown and Jordan Kravitz.
Jackson Women’s Health Organization. The court shook up abortion clinics all over the nation. Although it was true that the U.S. midterm elections were very positive voters affirmed the right to have an abortion for every state that the issue was up for debate 13 states have laws prohibiting abortions. Other states will likely be following suit. These bans will lead to the inevitable closings of abortion centers nationwide, forcing millions of women to travel for an abortion.
Before Dobbs, Texas laws had raised the number of women needing to travel outside the state to get an abortion. As a result, the clinics’ capacity was strained to provide comprehensive care, and demand is predicted to increase exponentially.
States Continue to Restrict Abortion Rights
While some states continue to restrict abortion rights while others vigorously defend the rights. Clinics in states that allow abortion will have to alter their practices to meet the needs of these states by renovating existing facilities, adding on, or building new clinics. Furthermore, they will need to make the necessary social infrastructures that surround these facilities, such as temporary housing food, dining facilities, and childcare for patients, and public spaces such as parks, libraries, and retail stores where family members and friends can sit for them–may not be enough to provide the needed support for the upcoming needs.
Licensed architects are bound by an ethical responsibility to safeguard the safety, health, well-being and safety, all elements of a professional profession that involve providing services in design to ensure equitable access to our built environments. As architects, we should stop ignoring the needs of healthcare facilities offering abortion services. Our legal obligation as architects is to provide services to these facilities to ensure everybody has access to high-quality and patient-centered reproductive health.
Building Codes to Close Abortion Clinics
Texas is a prime example. Texas utilized building codes to close abortion clinics across the state. While architecture is still a profession that believes itself neutral in the face of the social challenges facing society, a few examples offer some hope for the profession’s involvement in politics.
Architects have involve in the field of LGBTQ historical sites as well as affordable housing. Additionally, architectural associations and businesses have signed declarations committing to reducing the effect of the built environment on climate change.
Another important example is AIA’s adding rules to their Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct to ensure that members aren’t “knowingly designing spaces intended for execution and torture” following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. However, it’s important to remember that the updated code doesn’t clarify that architects shouldn’t design prisons.
Prisons and Abortion Clinics
Architects have been reluctant to participate in the politics of controversial areas like prisons and abortion clinics. In the past, when we’ve discussed abortion issues and architecture, some people in our design community have requested that we substitute abortion with “something else” or not employ the word in any way.
Architectural professional associations had remained silent or even declined to assist us when we requested assistance in advancing research into the architecture of abortion clinics to develop databases of architects. One group even claimed that aiding us didn’t “advance its strategic plan” even though it mentions the importance of ensuring equitable design in that plan. Furthermore, the abortion clinic is a type of healthcare facility not even mention in the most prestigious healthcare design guidelines, the Federal Guidelines Institute’s guidelines for design and Construction.
With the variety of architectural services needed to meet the current demand for providers of abortion, it is difficult not to wonder, “Why aren’t more architects speaking about this subject?